AP Spanish : Past Tenses

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Spanish

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Past Tenses

Fill in the blank with the correct response. 

Ellos _________ en la calle cuando vieron a Claudia.

Possible Answers:

caminaban

habían caminado

habrán caminado

han caminado 

caminaron 

Correct answer:

caminaban

Explanation:

In the first part of the sentence, the action that was interrupted before they saw Claudia was an action in progress in the past; therefore the imperfect tense must be used.

Example Question #1 : Verb Tense In Spanish

Which is the correct verb form?

Estaba andando en el parque cuando, de repente, un ciervo me __________.

Possible Answers:

sorprendido

sorprendía

sorprendió

sorprenderá

Correct answer:

sorprendió

Explanation:

This sentence expresses the completed action of the deer surprising me in the park, thus the preterite tense is the only correct response.

Example Question #1 : Preterite / El Pretérito

Which verb form is correct in context?

Estaba andando en la calle cuando, de repente, un ladrón __________ robarme. 

Possible Answers:

intentaban

intentó

intentaba

intenté 

Correct answer:

intentó

Explanation:

An interrupted action sequence requires the imperfect tense for the interrupted action and the preterite tense for the interrupting action, in this case, "intentó." The other verbs either do not agree in tense or in number with "un ladrón."

English translation: "I was walking in the street when, all of a sudden, a thief tried to rob me."

Example Question #2 : Verb Tense In Spanish

Which verb form properly completes the sentence?

__________ cerca de la orilla del rio cuando, de repente, vi un pez.

Possible Answers:

Anduve

Andaré

Andé

Andaba

Correct answer:

Andaba

Explanation:

The first verb conveys an action that is interrupted, so it needs to be in the imperfect tense. Only "Andaba" is the first person imperfect form of "andar" (to walk). 

English translation: "I was walking near the bank of the river when, all of a sudden, I saw a fish."

Example Question #1 : Pluperfect / El Pluscoamperfecto

Fill in the blank with the correct answer. 

Cuando llegaron ayer, tú ya __________.

Possible Answers:

habrías comido

habías comido

comiste

has comido

había comido

Correct answer:

habías comido

Explanation:

The first part of the sentence, "when they arrived yesterday," is in the preterite; the next clause that has the word "ya," "already," in it, implies the next action had occurred before the first one; therefore we need the past perfect tense, which in the 2nd person singular would be, habías comido. 

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